Resources for Parents and Families of Autistic Children – Supporting Parents and Families with an Autistic Child (pt. 2)

Part 2: Resources for Parents and Families of Autistic Children

The information for this article is taken from a qualitative research study and report by Stephanie Williamson. The research focused on the coping strategies of 12 different mothers who had between one and three children with autism. Mothers, who are often the main caretakers of their child with autism, usually experience high amounts of chronic stress, and are often obligated to learn a new and different way of life in raising a child with autism. Both parents coping with the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may struggle with the loss of previous expectations they had for their child’s future and the worries about how things will work out in planning for a possibly very different future. Many parents with a child who has autism find that their greatest support comes from activities with extended family, support from a spouse and other relatives, as well as understanding and helpful friends. Having professional resources through the school, community, and private programs also make a big difference.

What do Parents of Autistic Children Find Helpful from Others?

  • Life as a parent of a child with autism is often extremely hectic, unpredictable, and without breaks. Parents caring for an autistic child appreciate hands-on help. Offering to trade babysitting or watching their other children so they can take their child with autism to therapy are great ways to lend a hand.
  • Avoid offering unsolicited advice about what remedies they should try; instead, offer a listening ear. Parents may not have time to cope with more ideas at once than the ones they are already trying.
  • Get to know the child with autism. Behind the disorder, they are an individual who you will likely come to love and enjoy.
  • Be understanding. Parenting a child with autism requires parents to sometimes do things that may not be understood by others. A child with autism may not understand about staying safe and not running into the street, may have difficulty controlling bodily functions, and will not understand what is socially acceptable. They can act impulsively and do things that endanger themselves. Others in the community can avoid being judgmental of a family dealing with these behaviors, and realize that they are not caused by a lack of appropriate parenting.  

Resources for Parents

Mothers who participated in the aforementioned study, emphasized that receiving a diagnosis of autism can be a lengthy process, but it is essential to have in order to begin getting help. One mother said, “Get the diagnosis. Do whatever you have to do to fight it… Because once you have that, the doors open… the diagnosis I think has helped us the most.”

The available community resources for children with autism may vary between different locations in the United States. Additionally, many therapy and support programs can be found through a child’s school.

More than likely, a parent with a child with ASD wouldn’t even have time to read all this information! But you can pass on the message by offering a helping hand for children with a unique and special life.


References

Autism Society (2016) What is autism. Retrieved from: http://www.autism-society.org/what-is/causes/

Autism Speaks Inc. (Apr. 26, 2017). Autism and health: a special report by autism speaks. Retrieved from: https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/autism-and-health-special-report-autism-speaks

Williamson, S.A, (2009) Approaching autism: a qualitative review of maternal and familial adaptation among families of children with autism. In All Theses and Dissertations. Retrieved from: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2872&context=etd

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